Press Release

Friday 10 January 2020
5:35 AM

Unofficial translation

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The Arab Republic of Egypt affirms that the statement issued by the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the ministerial meeting on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which was held on January 8-9, 2020 in Addis Ababa, has included many outright rejected fallacies, it also contained deliberate misinformation and distortion of facts, and provided an image that absolutely contradicts the course of the negotiations and Egypt's positions and technical proposals as well as the actual deliberations during this meeting and in the three precedent ministerial meetings which were held over the past two months to discuss the rules for the GERD filling and operationalization. 

Egypt indicates that these four ministerial meetings did not lead to tangible progress due to Ethiopia's intransigence and its adoption of excessive positions that reveals its intention to impose a fait accompli and to extend its control over the Blue Nile in order to proceed towards the filling and operationalization of the Renaissance Dam without the slightest consideration of the water interests of the downstream countries, Egypt in particular being the last downstream country, in contravention of Ethiopia's legal obligations under international treaties and norms, primarily the Declaration of Principles Agreement concluded on March 23, 2015, as well as the 1902 Agreement that Ethiopia concluded of its own free will as an independent state, and the 1993 Agreement in which it pledged not to harm Egypt's water interests; nevertheless, Ethiopia is seeking to control the Blue Nile, just as it does in other international rivers shared with sisterly countries. 

Egypt affirms that this unfortunate Ethiopian approach was evident in the technical stances and proposals that it presented during the ministerial meetings, and which reflects Ethiopia's intention to fill the Dam’s reservoir without restrictions or applying any rules that provides genuine guarantees for the downstream countries and protects them from potential damage due to the filling process. 

Moreover, Egypt clarifies that the reason for Ethiopia’s refusal to drain the natural discharge during the operationalization of the GERD is due to its intention to use this Dam, which only aims to generate electricity, to launch future projects and freely exploit the resources of the Blue Nile without paying attention to Egypt's water interests and rights, guaranteed by international law.

Egypt engaged in these negotiations in good faith and in a positive spirit that reflects its sincere desire to reach a just and balanced agreement in the common interests of Egypt and Ethiopia. This was reflected in the flexible and open ideas and technical models presented by Egypt during the meetings. Contrary to what the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry statement claimed, that Egypt requested to fill the Renaissance Dam in a period of 12 to 21 years, Egypt did not specify a number of years for the filling of the Dam, in fact the three countries have agreed more than a year ago on filling the GERD in stages which the speed of their implementation depends on the Blue Nile annual discharge, the Egyptian proposal leads to filling the GERD in 6 or 7 years if the River’s discharge is average or above average during the filling period, in the event of a drought, the Egyptian proposal enables the GERD to generate 80% of its electricity production capacity, this means that the Ethiopian side will bear minimal burden in the case of a drought. 

Contrary to the misconceptions in the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry statement regarding the definition of water deficit, Egypt proposed mechanisms and rules to adapt to the hydrological changes in the Blue Nile and to deal with drought years that may coincide with the GERD filling process, this includes slowing down the filling speed and using quantities of water stored in the Dam to limit the negative effects of the filling process during drought, and bridge the water deficit that the downstream countries may be exposed to, while preserving the GERD’s capacity of generating electricity at accelerated rates; however, Ethiopia insists that Egypt bears alone the burden of drought; this contradicts the rules of international law and the principles of justice and fairness related to international rivers. 

Furthermore, Egypt expresses its astonishment that whenever it calls for the necessity of agreeing on effective steps to deal with any drought that may occur during the filling, Ethiopia declares its readiness to unilaterally fill the Renaissance Dam, this has been rejected by Egypt throughout the negotiations as it constitutes an explicit violation of the 2015 Declaration of Principles Agreement and Ethiopia’s obligations under the rules of international law. 

Egypt also denounces the allegations made in the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry statement claiming that Egypt seeks to monopolize the Nile waters; and points out that such empty statements and slogans - which may be issued for domestic use - does not help creating a favorable environment to achieve progress in negotiations. 

​Egypt will participate in the meeting convened by the US Secretary of Treasury with the Foreign and Water Ministers of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia in Washington on January 13 and 14, 2020, out of its commitment to working honestly in order to reach a fair and balanced agreement, and in the context of its efforts to preserve the unwavering interests of the Egyptian people.​